Believe it or not, millennials, our years of teen angst were not all that long ago—however, teenagers under age 18 are not part of the millennial classification as per the Pew Research Center. Almost 10 years fully removed from the teen label, I often spend time thinking of situations I would have handled differently, advice I wish I took and life skills I wish I had acquired earlier. I also think about what my life would look like if I were a teenager today—and I know that I would have utilized a variety of apps. I did listen to podcasts as a teenager, but podcasts were in their infancy at that time. With the vast variety of podcasts available today, I could have acquired some of the advice I wish I took—from experts (who aren’t my parents). Here are five apps and five podcasts that are beneficial to the lives of today’s teens—and will help us to act as mentors to the generation.
Girl Zone Challenge is an app branded for teenage girls. It provides workout routines, healthy recipes and even personality quizzes. Its App Store description indicates that it designed to “have fun and learn about a healthy lifestyle and your identity.” I especially give kudos to the personality quizzes—the teenage years bring biological changes for teenage girls, which, to put it kindly, can result in emotional outbursts. A better understanding of one’s identity could help alleviate such emotional stress. Free for all iOS devices.
Canary is created for driving aged teens—and is more for parents than for teens themselves. Its mission is to “stop distracted driving and help save lives,” and parents download their own version to their respective phones to track teen drivers. Reports are available for texting, talking, speeding and using the phone in general while driving. Free for iOS and Android.
iStaySafe also keeps safety in mind—but does not focus on driving. Its website utilizes branding geared toward teens—“You want to go out without getting those embarrassing phone calls from your parents!”—but the app is truly designed to minimize parental worry. Users can send a picture of a location as well as a “check-in” with a map. The app will also remind users to check-in with parents, and its best feature is the Emergency Alert feature—which sends a discreet reminder to family members in the event of an actual emergency situation. Free for iOS and Android.
For the studious type, MyHomework’s tagline is “Get rid of the paper planner.” Features include assignment reminders—which categorized by subject—and the ability to import a class schedule. MyHomework can also integrate with the teacher-based version of the app, Teachers.io. If a teacher uses the app, students can access syllabi, notes and live announcements from the teacher. Free with ads for iOS and Android with a Premium, ad-free upgrade for only $4.99 per year.
And last—but by no means least—Snagajob hosts a special section dedicated to teen jobs. It even breaks down the Top Teen Industries—including janitorial, sales and food, as well as the Top Teen Employers. It also boasts “over 300,000 part-time, full-time and hourly jobs hiring teenagers.” Free for iOS and Android.
School Library Journal’s Robin Brenner—a certified Teen Librarian—hosts a list of podcasts based in varied topics, which feature teen-friendly episodes. Two of her picks include the following:
Pitch is described as a look into “how and why sound works on our ears and our hearts.” Why is it a good pick for teens? Brenner says “it’s a good bet that anyone willing to listen to stories is also a fan of music”—and teens and music go together like peanut butter and—well, we get the picture. As a former music-obsessed teen (and current music-obsessed millennial) I may try this one out myself.
While millennials are known for their tech savvy, the teen generation—at least from my own observations—is in the process of defining a whole new breed of technological experts. Reply All is, by admission of its tagline, “a show about the Internet.” Brenner cites episode topics including “Whatever happened to the first webcam star?”
Moving on from Brenner’s list, Teen Vogue—while targeted to teenage girls rather than boys—also compiled a list of top podcasts. One in particular crosses gender-based lines. This American Life deals with real-life issues—some of which are perfect for all teens. Episode topics include emotional dealings such as breakups—but others cover life skills, as well as political issues including healthcare and immigration.
Millennials can learn a lot from NPR’s Planet Money—but so can teens. Scholastic Choices highlights this podcast as a “Top Podcast to Listen to With Your Teen” (the list is, of course, geared toward parents). “Planet Money does a great job of explaining complicated topics in simple, fascinating ways. Topics range from the Federal Reserve, to black markets, to athlete salaries.” I know I would have benefitted from a finance-based podcast as a teen—I had a lot of catching up to do to as a ‘real adult’ as I possessed next to no financial skills.
And finally, Healthy Relationships Podcasts from StayTeen.org cover what are possibly some of the most important teen-related topics: dating and relationships. While few episodes are available, the podcast is designed to help teens make smart decisions. Topics include “Advice from Older Siblings,” “Relationship Role Models” and “Dating Violence.”
Today’s teens will eventually follow in our footsteps in the workforce. It is important that we millennials mentor the teens in our midst—and this list is filled with tools to help.